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On 3 March 2016, PAIS organized a public meeting in Coventry to discuss cuts to spending on public services and welfare benefits.
Representatives from Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau, charities Coventry Cyrenians and St Basils and Coventry Trades Union Council and the People’s Assembly joined PAIS experts to discuss the hardships faced by various groups in Coventry and Warwickshire, including the homeless, young people, carers, the elderly, low wage earners and women.
Chris Rogers, University of Warwick, argued that recent austerity measures are part of a longer history of measures by government to cut back the role of the state in social protection, whilst Tony Conway of the People's Assembly suggested that "Austerity is about mainstreaming the neoliberal agenda for the 21st century".
Sophie Parkes of the Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau reported that, for the first time, people with incomes are relying on food banks.
Simon Glaze, of Warwick University, criticized government discourse that attempts to present poverty as a 'lifestyle choice' rather than the result of structural factors, such as low pay.
Juanita Elias, University of Warwick, highlighted the increasing pressures resulting from cuts to adult social care: “Low pay and poor conditions of work for those engaged in care work is a major concern, as is the wellbeing of those in their care. Since a major share of care is performed by family members, including grandparents, attention must be given to unpaid as well as paid care work."
Matt King, of youth homelessness charity St Basil's, described many young people as 'in crisis' as a result changes to housing benefit, whilst Mike Fowler of Cyrenians Coventry spoke about the links between poverty, unemployment and homelessness.
Jane Nellist, secretary of Coventry Trades Union Council and member of the National Union of Teachers executive, called on Labour councils to fight together against government cuts and invited people to a meeting to help shape a no-cuts budget for the people of Coventry, on 11 June, 11am to 4pm, at Ego Arts Centre, Silver St, Coventry CV1 1JN.
You might also be interested in reading: 'Coventry under the cuts to be examined'